This chapter is a fictional short story about capitalism and a Lebanese immigrant man living in Denmark with his Danish wife and their daughter. He works as an area manager in a multinational clothing company and as he attends the company’s annual general meeting, some of his co-workers make him an accomplice in their gross sexual harassment of a female employee. In Lebanon, the narrator was involved in feminist activism so all of his identity markers (race, gender, sexual orientation, professional status) get activated in a confusing puzzle as he finds that Denmark is not the paradise of gender equality that he hoped for.
In the Nordic countries and elsewhere, justice for victim-survivors of sexual violence and harassment remains elusive. Relatively few cases are ever reported to the police and the criminal justice procedure is characterised by high attrition rates and low conviction rates. In this context, restorative justice is increasingly being discussed as an alternative pathway to justice for survivors of sexual violence and harassment. The aim of this chapter is to explore the potential of using restorative justice in cases of sexual violence and harassment based on interviews with 35 victim-survivors in Iceland. The key questions are: How do survivors of sexual violence and harassment view restorative justice? How could alternative justice processes satisfy survivors’ justice interests? In the context of a feminist socio-legal framework, the findings indicate that survivors’ understandings of justice do not fit well with the aims of standard restorative justice practices. The policy implications of the findings are discussed, which indicate the need to go beyond restorative justice and develop innovative justice practices to satisfy the justice interests of survivors of sexual violence and harassment.
This book takes as its starting point fifty years of research, lifetimes of experience and a global #MeToo movement that has shown how sexual violence and harassment are persistent problems in society. Its inception was driven by the imperative to move beyond simplified and one-dimensional understandings of sexual harassment. Through investigating other perspectives, primarily from the Nordic field of gender, sexuality and intersectionality studies but also from outside academia, sexual harassment as a phenomenon is explored and developed. The book offers a unique empirical context by focusing on the Nordic region, with its high levels of both gender equality and sexual violence, its welfare states and increasing inequality, and its strong feminist movements and its exclusionary practices. Throughout the book, questions about violence, vulnerability, belonging, exposure, justice, and repression are brought into the realm of knowledge production around sexual harassment and violence. The inclusion of texts from writers and poets from outside the academic context also brings a complexity and nuance that are much needed in the framing of sexual harassment today. Hence, the book highlights what kinds of questions, imaginaries and knowledge can emerge when sexual harassment is incorporated into a broad field of research and knowledge-building.
In this concluding chapter, the editors take a comprehensive approach to the phenomenon of sexual harassment relating it to a continuum of violence, to flaws in the juridical systems, and to Nordic gender equality discourses and their status in previous research. Through these thematic strands, the results of the previous chapters are discussed and positioned in dialogue with each other. The chapter ends with a discussion on knowledge production, re-imagining as practice, and a compilation of reflections and lessons learned aimed at political structures, activists, HR staff, equality officers, and bystanders.
The starting point in this chapter is the discrepancy between far-reaching gender policies in the workplace and persistent expressions of gender violence and work-related ill health in Sweden. Based on intersectional perspectives and inspired by social reproduction theories, the analysis focuses on the different ways that workplace violence depletes women’s capacity to replenish themselves and their capacity to deal with everyday life. Testimonies from different workplaces suggest the need for analysis that goes beyond individual acts and organisational management practices and also problematises how workplace violence depletes female workers’ capacity to live sustainable lives. A central argument is that workplace violence must be approached not solely as a failure of gender policies but rather as an expression of structural and intertwined hierarchies of power that shape subordinate and vulnerable positions along lines of gender, class, sexuality and national belonging. Moreover, to grasp the consequences of this violence it is necessary to transcend traditional boundaries between working life and private life and explore how the lack of replenishment after female workers’ experiences of violence is perceived, transmitted and suffered in their affective and social life.
When the welfare state is dismantled and replaced by a neoliberal state marked by structural racism, feminist movements are affected as well. The development in Sweden is no different from other countries in the West. There is an increasing contemporary focus on repression as the solution to social ills like sexual violence and poverty, which calls for a feminist movement that takes on anti-racism and redistribution rather than repression and incarceration.
This chapter focuses on the emotional and psychological aftermath that comes as a result of gross sexual abuse. The author writes poetically and vividly about how simple events can turn everyday life upside down.
This chapter is a fictional short story about a woman who owns an allotment with her husband. One day her marriage faces a challenge as she is forced to use the men’s toilet in the communal building and discovers a piece of lewd and sexual graffiti mentioning her name on the wall in one of the stalls. She finds herself unable to stop ruminating about the anonymous harassment. Who wrote it? And why? And why hasn’t her husband removed it or said something about it?
The Introduction starts with a critical approach towards the ways in which previous research, policy and juridical systems of sexual harassment have constructed this phenomenon as an anomaly and not as an integral effect of social and structural power relations. In the Nordic region, this status as an anomaly is even more prominent due to these countries’ national self-images as utterly democratic, gender-equal and humanitarian societies with robust welfare systems. This chapter presents previous sexual harassment research and the demarcations of this field: its focus on prevalence and close connection with US legislation, its lack of an intersectional approach when it comes to sampling informants, and its simplified relationship to preventive measures and recommendations. Social imagination as a concept is introduced as a way to approach sexual harassment and violence as part of broader contexts of intersecting power relations and to introduce dialogues between sexual harassment research and the broader Nordic field of gender, sexuality and intersectional studies.
Sexism is a personal discriminatory experience for the victim, and it is an institutionalised habit (Ahmed, 2015, 2017). In our university life, we reiterate habitual patterns which offer some a ‘comfortable fit’ while casting others as ‘deviant’ from the implicit cultural norms. Here, I strive to capture a gendered dynamic at a Danish physics department. I find that this department offers the male students a ‘comfortable fit’ while it marks the female students and researchers as ‘deviant’ and therefore ill-suited for the department. Concretely, I interviewed 22 physics students to capture which sexist and sexual harassment hurdles are placed in front of the women, but also how these hurdles appear almost invisible to the men. I conclude that if we maintain a focus on how the minority group deviates from the male-defined norms and therefore aim to ‘fix the women’, we will keep reproducing the male norm which casts women as ‘deviant’ in the first place. What we need to do instead is direct our attention towards the seemingly invisible male-defined norm and address the male privilege blindness. We need to start questioning the cultural norm or backdrop, rather than the ones who stand out from it.